Mar 29, 2011 | Comments 1
Vesalius Andreas. De Humani Corporis Fabrica (1543)
Published: Basel | 1543 | Language: Latin | 363 pages | File type: PDF | 91 mb
Andreas Vesalius (Brussels, December 31, 1514 Zante, October 15, 1564) was an anatomist, physician, and author of one of the most influential books on human anatomy, De humani corporis fabrica (On the Structure of the Human Body). Vesalius is often referred to as the founder of modern human anatomy.
Vesalius was born into a family long associated with the medical care of the imperial dynasty, most notably being his father who was the pharmacist for Charles V of Germany. From an early age, Vesalius showed an inclination to follow in the family tradition through his dissection of dead birds and mice. He studied at the University of Leuven from 1530 until 1533, when he began his studies at the University of Paris under Jacobus Sylvius and Johann Guinter. At the outbreak of the war between France and the Holy Roman Empire in 1536, Vesalius returned home to complete his studies at the University of Leuven, where he received his medical degree in 1537.
In the autumn of 1537, Vesalius enrolled in the medical school of the University of Padua, and received his doctorate of medicine shortly thereafter. Upon his graduation, he was immediately offered the chair of Surgery and Anatomy (explicator chirurgiae) at Padua, where he began giving public lectures. His innovative lectures and course plans were unique for two reasons. First, he performed his own dissections rather than reading aloud while a demonstrator did the dissection and second, because he used drawings to aide his teaching. These drawings became an integral part in his teaching, and later in his published works.
Soon thereafter, Vesalius became interested in the validity of Galen’s findings, and began his study on human anatomy and his major work, De humani corporis fabrica. In 1539, a Paduan judge became interested in Vesalius’ work, and made bodies of executed criminals available for dissection. His collection of detailed anatomical diagrams grew, many of which were produced by commissioned artists in the area and were of better quality than previous diagrams. His diagrams became known as the first accurate set of diagrams to be produced.
In 1540, Vesalius went to Bologna where he presented his anatomical findings and criticized Galen for his methods of studying the human anatomy. Between 1539 and 1542, Vesalius compiled his findings, a majority of which were in contradiction to Galen’s work, in his masterpiece, De fabrica, and employed talented artists to provide illustrations of the human body, an important feature of his book.
Soon after the publication of De fabrica, Vesalius was invited to become the imperial physician to the court of Emperor Charles V, where over the next twelve years, he traveled with the court, treated injuries from battles and tournaments, and performed surgeries as well as postmortems. He also wrote private letters that addressed specific medical questions. After the abdication of Charles, he continued working for the court under Charles’s son, Philip II, who rewarded Vesalius with a life pension.
On a trip back from Jerusalem in 1564, Vesalius died in a shipwreck off the coast of Greece.